Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Himeji Castle

Josh and I spent one of our days off last week at Himeji Castle. We drove there ourselves, this was our first experience with Japanese toll roads. We were a little nervous about negotiating this but in the end it worked out quite well. Except the roads do not give directions (north, south, east, west) they simply say the name of the next town. So if you are planning to ever come to Japan. bone up on your geography. Himeji Castle is the stuff that Akria Kurasoua films are made of. It is all white tile and actually glistens in the sun, hence its name to the Japanese "white crane castle".

It is also exceedingly tactically impressive. It has a double moat with accompanying double wall. The grounds are beautiful with ancient trees. Once it seems that the grounds were a setting for Japanese Nationalist Monuments which I am happy to say, were decrepit and clearly no longer venerated.

Back to the military intenseness of Himeji: It is built on a huge hill and the grounds are continuously circling upward with massive walls. The walls have three different types of murder holes. One for archers, one for canons and the last ones are triangle shaped for Portuguese arquebus.

Here is me examining one of the many murder holes.

Himeji Castle

Here is Josh in front of the Castle.

The grounds are immense and very well gardened, many of the trees are hundreds of years old, and because of all the obsessive Japanese gardeners, they are very strangely formed.

The inside of this castle is very well preserved, unlike Osaka castle which feels like a modern building inside. The use of massive wood beams goes a long way to explaining why there are few large trees in Japan's long abused forests. These beams are incredible, must have been quite the feat to construct given that it is all done with notch and peg work.

A castle grapefruit (affectionately known as a pamplemousse) tree

Another classical firewarding gargoyle fish.

Remember, if you are at Himeji Castle there is to be no scribbling!

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